Shrewd investment pays

Despite the continuing economic uncertainty, 69% of the UK’s IT departments are continuing to invest ‘heavily’ in technology.

According to research commissioned by Cognos, of 100 UK FDs, mobile and web-based applications will be the main area for investment, with 46% of organisations planning to spend in these areas. ‘In the eyes of the board, IT is continuing to develop as an essential part of any business strategy.

It’s more important than ever in the current economic climate to maintain a competitive edge – this means access to immediate information is vital.

Businesses cannot, therefore, afford to indiscriminately slash IT budgets – quite the opposite. ‘The age-old saying of 20% extra effort generates 80% more results, holds true here,’ said Graham Walter, Cognos UK managing director.

Although it is good news that companies are shying away from cutting IT budgets, it is essential they make the most out of what they have and what they buy.

There is no point in spending cash on giving staff access to information if they don’t analyse or make full use of it. ‘Never has it been more important for IT and FDs to make shrewd technological investments based on speed of ROI,’ added Walter.

The report comes as it was revealed shipments of handheld devices in Europe grew 8% during 2001 – in a market that is set to soar this year, according to market research firm IDC.

‘The future looks good and wireless will grow in 2002. The next big thing for the channel will be devices that carry the PocketPC which will increase sales,’ said Andy Brown, an analyst at IDC.

Meanwhile, security and selling systems to other firms will replace e-business as long-term IT priorities for finance companies this year, according to analysts.

The annual list of the top 10 strategic IT initiatives for the sector by Meridien Research has revealed that difficult economic conditions will force companies to concentrate on internal IT development at the expense of many ebusiness projects. The main projects expected to disappear from this year’s list are e-procurement and e-marketplaces.

This is because significant infrastructure requirements needed to support electronic transactional systems combined with low trading volumes in exchanges made the model uneconomical.

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